Blog: Web Technology

Umbraco vs. WordPress – Which is Better for Your Business Website?

Posted by in Web Technology on Friday, August 16, 2013

Web Technology

What’s the difference between traditional web development and a site built with Umbraco, WordPress, or any other content management system? Websites built on Content Management Systems (CMS) generally have their functionality divided into three components: content, design, and programming.

The separation of these three components allows anyone with basic online proficiency to make changes to the content of a website built on a CMS without compromising the look and feel of the site. This creative flexibility makes the use of CMS ideal for SMBs and professionals who perform regular website updates.

There are several obvious advantages to using a CMS versus traditional development:

  • Consistent look and feel across multiple sections, regardless of internal ‘ownership’ of pages
  • Faster development time as core functionality is pre-installed
  • Companies can update the site themselves, without waiting for a development team
  • SEO-friendly URLs are easy to generate and maintain
  • Increased content security (when the CMS is properly configured)

Because of its perceived ease-of-use, many SMBs and professionals turn to WordPress first when deciding on a CMS. However, there are many compelling reasons to choose Umbraco over WordPress, particularly if you do not have in-house developers.

Umbraco vs. WordPress: Site map and Structure

Deciding on website structure – how pages link to one another as well as the overall hierarchy of the website – is the first step when developing a website. These linking structures are critically important, both from a usability standpoint and an SEO standpoint.

Website visitors will be more likely to find what they are looking for if the website structure and menus follow an intuitive and logical progression. Through the use of keywords in URLs, companies can see a boost in their search engine rankings and overall “findability” on the web.

To create this overall website structure requires development on the back-end of the website, and that’s where things can get complicated. Ideally, a good CMS should offer the ability to manage all content in one section and all media in another, regardless of the actual location of the content within the website itself.

When developing the workflow of a CMS, a developer will create a separate form for each type of content that is to be entered. This is so they can control the fields shown to the user as well as dictate how the server will display the content that is entered.

Umbraco and WordPress handle website structure in completely different ways:

WordPress has two basic content types, Post and Pages. To create any more, the developer needs to install a plugin or write additional PHP code.  To add, edit, or delete content, users are required to go to separate screens where the content is listed. This can lead to confusion and frustration in larger sites where there are often many posts and pages that must be updated.

Managing the menu in WordPress starts out as a straightforward process. Create an item and a menu item is created for you. But what happens when you need to have the menu item name shorter than your page title? Or you need your menu items to appear in a specific order? Or have a blog category or even specific blog post, appear in the middle of your dropdown menu?

For these very common scenarios, WordPress offers a menu manager, which is again in a separate location from pages, posts or other content you create. Each menu then requires its own separate entry in the manager.

Umbraco takes a much simpler approach. All the content, regardless of type, is listed in the content tree. The type of content is chosen at the time of creation. The menu order is determined by the order of the content in that tree.  The menu items, including titles and location, are handled by filling out the content form.

In addition, Umbraco automatically creates URLs that are based on website structure. While this feature is available in WordPress, it must be manually activated, and requires mod_rewrite on the Apache server where WordPress is installed. In addition, it requires tweaking the .htaccess (security) file in order to function.

Umbraco vs. WordPress: Scalability

A small business website may have dozens or even hundreds of pages, especially those that have a catalogue of products or services. As your website grows larger and more complex, the speed and stability of the underlying platform becomes even more critical

Google includes website speed as one of its ranking factors. Human website visitors are also accustomed to speed – most will only wait a few seconds for a website to load before moving on.

With WordPress, when you add more plugins to increase functionality it can bog down your webpages with additional code in the form of .CSS or JavaScript. This additional code negatively impacts page load times. Use too many plugins, and your website may slow to a crawl, making it unusable for website visitors and search engines alike.

One WordPress plugin in particular is often installed to aid in search engine optimization. The purpose of the plugin is create site maps (both human and search engine readable), add meta tags, and connect various 3rd party applications like Google Analytics. Umbraco doesn’t need this kind of plugin. Both types of site maps can be created automatically

Umbraco vs. WordPress: Practical Considerations

Overall, one of the biggest selling points of Umbraco is its simple user interface.  People who are used to filling out web forms and surveys can intuitively grasp the nature of content management within Umbraco. And because the developer has greater control over how the input forms are laid out, it can be customized to suit business needs in almost any situation.

Business owners in the midst of choosing a CMS should take into consideration all of the factors – features, functionality, scalability, etc. as well as price.  While WordPress is great blog software that can be used as a CMS for very small sites, its core functionality just doesn’t stand up to the offerings of a dedicated CMS such as Umbraco.

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